Riggers must change attitude

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

Ever wondered what it would be like to see a train wreck unfold before your very eyes?

To see a car (unoccupied, of course) stall at a crossing and a fully loaded locomotive nail it head on and fling it down the track a mile or two?

Well, 11,884 fans witnessed that Saturday night at the 'Dome when the Calgary Roughnecks, in the role of a wee Ford Fiesta, were demolished 17-7 by the Colorado Mammoth in their final National Lacrosse League regular-season tilt.

It was a game Calgary had to win to host a playoff tilt next weekend. Instead, they now open the post-season on the road in Denver.

So, the burning question is: Can the Roughnecks make themselves road worthy by next weekend for a long drive in the playoffs?

Calgary finished the season losing two straight to the Mammoth and were outscored 28-15.

Saturday's game was the most important of the year and the Roughnecks responded to the pressure by suffering their worst home loss since they were blown out 32-17 by the defunct Montreal Express in their inaugural game in 2001.

The Riggers gave up a season-high 17 goals and scored a season-low seven.

They were outhustled, outplayed and completely dominated in the second half when the Mammoth outscored them 12-3.

All season long, the Roughnecks spoke of the importance of securing a home playoff game.

For a team with a small ownership group, hosting a post-season tilt meant a lot to the bottom line.

Which is why Saturday night's devastating loss was all the more disappointing and concerning.

Consider this: On a team chock-full of some of the biggest names in the league, undrafted rookie Jeremy Cheyne -- making his first NLL start -- was the star of the game for Calgary scoring twice and playing with an intensity not matched by most of his teammates.

Late in the game when frustrations boiled over for the Roughnecks, they went looking to start trouble and a few fights but Colorado would have no part of it.

The Mammoth was there to win a lacrosse game.

The same couldn't be said for Calgary.

Captain Tracey Kelusky -- held without a goal -- was pragmatic about the loss.

The team played terribly, did most everything wrong and spent too much time worrying about the extra-curricular stuff, he agreed.

In short, they have to play completely different if they want to beat Colorado next time around.

They have to regroup and refocus.

As Kelusky said, the regular season is over and the playoffs are a whole new ball game.

Easy to say but after two tough losses to Colorado, the Mammoth clearly have the confidence, the momentum and Calgary's number heading into Round 3.

On paper, this year's edition of the Roughnecks is arguably the best the organization has ever assembled.

General manager Kurt Silcott, in his first season, put together a roster deep in talent with veteran experience and youthful skill.

Most pundits picked them to win the West Division and take a serious run at the Champion's Cup.

Some within the organization predicted a 13-3 record.

The Riggers finished 9-7 and in third place.

Perhaps fans take solace in one fact.

Calgary, with that record, now must win potentially twice on the road to make the championship game.

That's the same record and same road they travelled when they won it all in 2004 and ended up hosting the championship game.

Still, after Saturday night, this year's journey appears a much tougher trek.


Videos

Photos